“Utility” in its most basic definition means “a state of being useful.” So it’s no surprise that when we think of a utility room in a home, we think of the basics – laundry, ironing boards that fold down from the wall, and maybe some small cupboard space. Utility rooms, however, can be more than just useful spots to clean your clothes.
“I like to think that utility rooms are another living space in a home,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs Inc., based in Eugene, Ore. “You can do so much more with them, so their usefulness includes organization, storage, crafting space, mudrooms and more. Nowadays, utility rooms take ‘useful’ to a whole new level.”
In fact, utility rooms can become extensions of the kitchen or elaborate mudrooms with cubby holes and hooks and nooks.
“Out of sight, out of mind was how many looked at utility rooms years ago,” said McAlexander. “But they are no longer relegated to the basement or the garage. Utility rooms are the new workhorse of home design.”
From pet-friendly spaces to convenient locations and savvy organization, utility rooms have come a long way. Designs now offer rooms that perform and catch the eye. We dig a little deeper into these design ideas with five top trends in utility rooms.
1. Hobby Home
Space is one thing in a modern utility room, especially as workstations for doing the laundry. But we’re pretty sure homeowners aren’t just doing laundry 24/7 (although it may sometimes feel that way). Homeowners are looking to make these rooms do more than just clean clothes and store cleaners. Hobbies of all kinds, such as home canning, sewing and gardening, are taken into consideration in the layout. For example, the Tetherow design (31-019) features a utility room with ample space for your favorite crafts.
“It’s probably the more popular request when it comes to utility rooms,” said McAlexander. “Home canning in particular is an add-on many ask for in a utility room design, which makes for some very unique layouts.”
2. Pet-Friendly Palace
Hobbies are one thing though; pets are quite another. They’re members of the family and as such, we want to provide them with comfort and a space all their own – which is where utility room designs come into play. Common add-ons include spaces for kitty litter boxes or food storage. But the Nottingham design (30-965) takes those add-ons to a whole new level. An extensive utility room off the garage includes a separate spot just for dogs, as well as a pet door. It’s like a stately bedroom for man’s best friend.
“Utility room design that includes pets can easily become even more extensive and elaborate,” said McAlexander. “A pet-friendly room is as essential to home design now as space for your washer and dryer, and I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon.”
3. Mudroom Must-Haves
Speaking of usefulness, there’s nothing like a spot specifically built to hold your rain boots, coats and other outdoor sundries. A mudroom, or drop zone, is probably the most common addition to a home’s utility area. Often set near the garage, a mudroom can be as subtle or as elaborate as a homebuyer wants it to be. For large families, a few cupboards and shelves help to keep all those shoes organized.
The mudroom in the Nottingham sits just off the garage and is, in its own way, an extension of the utility room area. With hooks to hang coats and backpacks, a closet to store larger gear, and a half-bath nearby, it’s the ideal way to take the day off before relaxing at home.
4. Storage Station
Organization and storage may be one of the more popular trends in the world of utility room must-haves. And we aren’t talking about simple cupboard space. Space-saving amenities such as hidden trashcans, stacked washers and dryers and countertops are all options for homebuyers to consider as they make their utility rooms beyond useful. In many ways, a utility room can mimic the kitchen in its ability to organize your things with the greatest of efficiency and ease of use. Both the Nottingham and the Tetherow design put storage in the spotlight with counter space, closets and cupboards aplenty.
“Changing lifestyles mean a lot of families nowadays want easy access to their things,” said McAlexander. “A utility room that has everything right at the homeowner’s fingertips is a big trend. The more organized you are, the more unique the organization options, the niftier that utility room becomes.”
5. Location, Location, Location
To expand and build on its usefulness, a utility room has to be conveniently located. Where it sits in relation to the rest of the house makes a huge difference in how it can and should be used. Commonly, a utility room is situated just off the garage with a mudroom and easy access to the kitchen and pantry as in the Nottingham design. Other convenient locations include just off the walk-in closet of the master’s suite or near a porch. This spot showcased in the Tetherow is well suited for those who want to give their hobby a special spot rather than have it tucked away in the back.
Bottom line, a utility room isn’t just for laundry anymore. It’s an essential component to any home and as with any room, it can be multifunctional. That’s where it’s true usefulness can really shine.